The oddest thing about Florida’s new state law to punish foreign companies that do business in Cuba is not that it is an election season gimmick by Republican lawmakers to win Cuban-American votes, nor that it is likely to cost taxpayers a lot before it ends up defeated in the courts. It’s that it would actually help Cuba’s dictatorship.
Before we get into why, let’s look at the facts. The new state law, signed Tuesday by Gov. Rick Scott, prohibits local governments from hiring firms that do business in Cuba or Syria for contracts worth more than $1 million, and forbids Florida state pension funds from investing in these firms.
Drafters of the law tell me there are about 200 foreign companies that could fall into one of these two categories, including Brazil’s Miami-based engineering and construction giant Odebrecht USA, whose parent company has a subsidiary that is upgrading Cuba’s port of Mariel.
In a telephone interview Wednesday, U.S. Rep. David Rivera (R-Miami), one of the most vocal backers of the new state law, rejected criticism that it is unconstitutional, and that it will scare away foreign investments from the state.